At this point, I am an old hand when it comes to nursing a croupy child back to health. I think we are on Croup version 6.0 in my house – well, that depends on whether you count what I mistakenly thought was croup, but was actually whooping cough. As I type this, my daughter is coughing and sounding like a barking seal, it gets worse while she’s sleeping (or lying down, basically), and it gets worse at night. Last night was night 3, so if conventional wisdom is correct, she is over the worst of it, and we’ll be done with it all by day 6 (or Thursday of this week).
I guess the nice thing about sending your toddler to full-time, 5-day-a-week day care is that it gives your kid’s immune system so many opportunities to strengthen itself. I guess the nice thing about being a Mama with a sick toddler (at least for me) is that said toddler, usually running away from or wiggling out of your loving arms, wants to be in them for once. And finally, the nice thing about being a HOLISTIC Mama is that you can test out your arsenal of natural remedies – AGAIN – before taking the child in to the pediatrician. (I always seem to let pediatrician visits depress me.)
So, now that I’m so good at dealing with croup, I’ve decided to put together my “cheat sheet” of croup remedies, in case any of you are looking for something to go up on the fridge. (To get the password to the Holistic Mamas’ e-library, sign up for my mailing list).
Signs & Sounds of Croup
- According to my pediatrician: croup typically lasts 6 days. Nights 2 and 3 are the absolute worst, but nights 4, 5, and 6 get better and better.
- Croup sounds like a ringing, barking cough (or seal-like).
- The child can seem fine during the day, but as night comes on, the cough worsens significantly, to the point where they can wake themselves up from coughing.
Remedies for Croup
Here are the things I have tried, along with my notes for how successful they were:
- Sat in the bathroom with her with the hot shower running, letting the steam curl up and fog the mirrors. Put a blend of essential oils together and sprayed it into the steam – my blend of immunity-boosting essential oils includes Clove, Tea Tree, Lemon, Thyme, Lavender, Peppermint, and Niaouli. It also smells amazing, like a walk in the forest. This works REALLY WELL for my child. I usually sit in there with her for 10 minutes, rocking and singing to her.
- Bundled her up and taken her outside for a night walk. This has worked well, too, but my paranoid husband doesn’t let me do it all that often.
- Put a humidifier in her bedroom. I don’t notice this helping that much, frankly, but they say it’s what you’re supposed to do, so I do it. She still coughs up a storm unless I do #1 or #2. When I do those first, the humidifier does seem to work.
- Used homeopathy. Homeopathy is one of those disciplines that sometimes (for me) can cross – or blend – the boundaries of art and science. Picking out a remedy can be hard, so I basically use a home repertory and make a table. In the leftmost column, I make a list of all the symptoms that she exhibits, like, “worse lying down,” “worse at night,” “barking cough,” “cough with phlegm,” “cough with gagging,” etc. Then, in the rows to the right, I list all the remedies suggested under “cough.” Then, I go and put a checkmark in each of the boxes where the remedy is suggested for a specific symptom. Then, I count up the checkmarks and the remedy with the most total checkmarks is the one that I use. Sometimes, however, I don’t have that remedy, so I will use the next best remedy that I actually do have. In this current bout of croup, I have used Pulsatilla, with great success (seemed to really help her sleep at night).
- Used a cough ointment on her back and her chest. I like to use a Eucalyptus-based or menthol-based vapor rub to help alleviate her congestion/breathing – of course, I prefer a “natural” version of Vick’s vapor rub. I especially like “Breathe Easy,” from Sweet Herb Medicinals. This seems to help my daughter out, but I have to be careful, because strong-smelling oils tend to antidote the aforementioned Homeopathy .
- Made some ginger-lemon-and-honey tea. Now that my daughter is past a year old, the danger of botulism spores in raw honey doesn’t seem so … dangerous. So, I cut up some ginger – about a tablespoon worth, added the juice of half a lemon and another tablespoon of raw honey, and poured hot water over the combination to make a nice, immune-stimulating tea. How did my daughter like it? Well, she took one sip and wouldn’t drink anymore. But it sure helped me – I went to bed with the symptoms of her cough/cold (the other nice thing about being a Mama – you get to “share” your children’s illnesses with them), and after imbibing a cup of my concoction, woke up feeling back to normal! For other herbal tisane ideas, see the Ayurvedic section of this post for some other teas you can try for your little coughing cub.
Well, that’s it from me. Anyone else have any good croup remedies they’d like to share?